Savita Halappanavar asked for termination, staff confirm

Fri, Jan 18, 2013, 00:00

Staff at Galway University Hospital have backed up claims by the husband of Savita Halappanavar that she had asked for and was refused a termination at the hospital just days before she died last October.

The inquest into the 31-year-old woman’s death opens in Galway this morning, and yesterday it emerged that statements provided to the inquest confirm her husband Praveen’s version of what happened in the days before she died on October 28th.

She had been 17 weeks pregnant when she presented at the hospital a week earlier with severe back pain and was found to be miscarrying.

Her husband said, following her death, that she had been in pain and repeatedly asked for a medical termination over a three-day period but this was refused as a foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told “this is a Catholic country”.

She died in the hospital’s intensive care unit, four days after the foetal heartbeat stopped.

An autopsy by Dr Grace Callagy found she died of septicaemia “documented ante-mortem” and E.coli ESBL.

Up to 50 statements have been taken by gardaí from staff at Galway University Hospital, friends of the late Ms Halappanavar and from her husband, Praveen, for her inquest.

His solicitor Gerard O’Donnell said yesterday: “Having looked at all the statements I am completely confident everything my client has said will be proved to be correct”.

West Galway coroner Dr Ciarán McLoughlin is expected to set out this morning how the inquest will proceed, set a date for the full hearing, which is likely to be in March, and finalise the full list of witnesses.

It is understood the consultant who treated Ms Halappanavar at Galway University Hospital confirms in her statement to the inquest that she was asked for a termination and she gave the legal reasons why one could not be provided. It is also understood that her statement is backed up by those of other hospital staff.

Inquiries by the HSE and the Health Information and Quality Authority are ongoing.